Claireece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) escapes into a fantasy world where she leads a glamorous life. The fantasy helps her deal with the harsh reality of her existence. She's an obese, 16 year-old Harlem native--pregnant with her second child by her own father. And she lives with Mary, (Mo'Nique) the mother from hell. In Precious, the mother-daughter scenes are gut-wrenching and difficult to watch. Precious suffers physical and emotional abuse at the hands of "dear old mom," a being with no shred of human warmth, compassion, or conscience. Her only motivation in life is to manipulate the system and keep her welfare checks coming. That she is portrayed so convincingly in this light is a testament to the acting talent of comedian Mo'Nique, playing against type. If she doesn't get an Oscar nomination for her performance, you can slap my ass and call me Nancy.
Though she's basically illiterate, Precious has an aptitude for math--and so her Junior High principal is able to get her placed into an alternative school where, despite strong resistance from mom--who just wants her to "get her ass" down to the welfare office--she has an opportunity to develop the potential that has heretofore remained hidden. But there will be more devastating news and more challenges ahead for Precious, as she struggles to escape the bonds of despair and degradation she was born into.
Precious is poised to receive multiple Academy Award nominations, both for individual presentations and, most likely, for Best Picture as well. Strong performances are turned in from from Gabourey Sidibe--who had no previous acting experience; Paula Patton as Ms. Rain, the teacher who takes Precious under her wing; and Mariah Carey, as a welfare case officer. Carey's appearance is toned down to the point where you may not recognize her at first. I didn't.
Personally, I'd love to see Patton get some recognition for this, as her sincerity shines through in every moment she's on screen. There's also a nice ensemble cast of insolent, trash-talking teenage chicks who play off of Precious at her new school. All this and Lenny Kravitz as a male nurse !
Produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, and directed by Lee Daniels, Precious is the story of how the human spirit will fight to survive despite overwhelming odds against it. Not to be missed.